Vivid Magenta Ink is Mucky, clogged head

I wish I had seen that another user also had serious problems with the Vivid Magenta ink (CCPRO-VM-220) before I got into this mess ( ). I have been fighting clogs on the VM channels for weeks ever since I added new ink (added lot 140115 Exp Feb 2017); but now it is completely clogged. (tried to upload image of cartridge, but received error #2038)

I’m a customer (C19885) who has been using CC inks exclusively since 2010 in an Epson 4880 printer. I’ve been very pleased with them for the most part, however I must say that the the last time I added Vivid Magenta ink it has had a tendency to clog the head—and looks different in the cartridge because it sticks to the sides rather than flowing down to the bottom as the ink is consumed. I agitate the cartridges on a regular basis. I keep both the capping station and the wiper clean using PiezoFlush. Usually I’m able to clear any clogged nozzles by running a regular cleaning; however at this point there is nothing printing from the VM channel. All the other channels are fine. I just assumed that the difference in VM was a normal characteristic of the pigment.

I’ve tried to clear it using the “puddle method” with PiezoFlush. I’ve used PiezoFlush and Bounty Paper towels to clean the print-head… I’ve tried power cleans, but nothing seems to be able to open that one channel. I’ve looked at the InkJetBlog for help, but I’m unsure what to do next.

What should I do now. I’m wondering if I should dump the ink in the VM cartridge and start over, but there is nothing flowing thought that line/head. I have never done that before and I would like your advice on how to proceed. If I empty a refillable cartridge, should I clean it somehow before refilling it? If I replace that damper, can I use a syringe to force PiezoFlush through the head? Do I need to replace all the inks–I’m not having trouble with any of the other ones.

Please let me know how to proceed.

Hi jon144~

Thanks for the detailed information, it’s helpful for troubleshooting. I included some information and questions below to help resolve your issue:

After reviewing your order history, I see you bought your refill carts in 2010, and have bought a total of three bottles of VM ink (one every two years, the most recent in Sept 2014). 8oz of ink is the equivalent of using one cartridge worth of ink in two years, which is infrequent use of a pro model printer.
I have been using the exact same lot# VM Ink in our studio production printers (one 9880 + two 9900s), for nearly a year without any major issues (though I refill carts every few months, shake carts at least every other week, and use/clean printers regularly). It’s common for me to see a few missing and/or mis-firing nozzles after the printers sit unused for a few days, but everything looks perfect again after a regular cleaning cycle, so I don’t suspect your problem is specific to this ink batch, or that the ink is bad. I do know that magenta (and yellow) pigment ink is often the thickest of the colors, therefore can settle faster and get particle build up in the damper faster that other colors (this is true with all pigment inks, including Epson).
I checked my bottles + carts, and don’t have excessive/abnormal build up on the sides like you report, which I agree sounds strange/alarming. Can you send a photo of your magenta cartridge, showing how ink is sticking to the sides for me to see? Are you using the cartridges with the air vent hole open or with the filter?

Have you ever replaced the dampers in this 4880 printer? If so, about how long ago? If the dampers have never been replaced, then that’s something you should do (every 1-3 years, along with your wiper blade and cap pump assembly). Helpful cleaning + maintenance info can be found here:

Here’s my suggestions: To clean out the internal ink line, remove the magenta cart and install a cart containing PiezoFlush. You’ll need a syringe (30ml or larger) to manually draw flush/ink thru the line, as well as the repair manual for instructions on how to dismantle + replace parts in your printer (if you don’t already have it, you can get the repair manual from, and at least one new damper (but if you’ve never replaced dampers in this printer, you should replace all 8 at once). From what you explain, I believe your issue is in the magenta damper, but depending on how long this has been going on, you may have also developed some drying/clogging of the print head channel- in which case, you would benefit from having our print head cleaning kit on hand, to gently flush the magenta channel when you have access to the head. Also- have paper towels handy, because you will have some amount of ink drips.

  • Raise/unlock the cartridge locking levers and slide all carts out about 1" (to stop ink flow). Disconnect the dampers from the print head. I suspect the magenta damper screen is clogged, so don’t expect you’ll be able to draw thru the old damper. Disconnect the magenta damper from the ink line, then lower the left bay cartridge locking lever (to open ink flow), and use the syringe to draw ink out of the magenta line, until you get air. Unlock the cartridge lever and install the magenta flush cart, then lower the lever again. Now, use the syringe to draw PiezoFlush thru the line, and if you feel it needs to soak, raise the lever again to let the line soak with flush fluid.
    Once you feel the line is flushed, install the magenta ink cartridge (emptied + filled with fresh ink, just to be safe), and repeat the procedure to refill the line with ink. Attach the new damper(s), and prime with ink using the syringe. Always raise/unlock cartridge levers to stop ink flow when parts are disconnected (except the short time you need to draw with the syringe), to avoid an ink mess.
  • To flush the print head channel using our print head cleaning kit, follow the instructions (which are for desktop model printers) by placing a folded paper towel under the print head, then gently injecting PiezoFlush thru the magenta channel (no need to flush other channels if they’re all working well). If there’s resistance- pull the syringe plunger up to help dislodge the blockage. If any crud comes up into the syringe, remove + empty it, then refill with fresh flush fluid and repeat until you have good flow thru the channel. Clean the bottom of the head when removing the paper towel.
    *After cleaning the head channel, flushing the ink line and attaching the new damper(s), reassemble your printer, then do 2-3 regular cleaning cycles and print a nozzle check to see how things look.

Some helpful links:

  1. Print head flush kit:
  2. Syringe:

I hope this helps, keep me posted.
Warmly~ Dana :slight_smile:

Thanks so much for all the valuable information. I already have a set of new dampers, wiper blade, capping station–I’ve already replaced the dumping station–and a copy of the maintenance manual, but I have not replaced the parts because up until now, I have not needed to. Yes, I do have very low printer use, but I shake the carts regularly and print out nozzle checks–performing cleans until they all work and then also a test image that uses quite a lot of ink and confirms the check. It certainly is possible that the difficulty with the VM is from accumulated settling. I once asked Jon Cone, and he said to just add the new ink to the cart with the old ink. So far it’s a strategy that has worked except for the VM which is the one that seems to clog the worst–although previously I’ve had trouble with the yellow.

Do I continue using the old refillable carts including the VM? If not, what is the best way to clean it? I don’t see that I can buy them individually. I have a new set of all the inks recently purchased.

Thanks again for your attention to my situation,
Jon Gross

Hi Dana,
“you would benefit from having our print head cleaning kit on hand…” The print head flush kit you recommend is for small format printers, and the printer I’m using is a 4880. I have PiezoFlush.
Will this work on the 4880 print head when it is removed to replace the dampers?
If not, what procedure should I use?

I followed your instructions carefully–although I had difficulty attaching a syringe to the ink lines. In any case I’m now dead in the water. I replaced the dampers, wiper blade, and cap station. I tried starting the 4880 in “Maintenance Mode 3” as directed by you on the page “Initial Fill Procedures for Epson Pro Model Printers” ( ) but the unit I have has only 2 modes with the initial fill not directly accessible: The initial charge flag is set at the factory, and then whenever the head is changed and the “input rank” is entered.
I tried running 4 power clean cycles, but now there is nothing printing at all. also, it looks like the ink lines are empty.
Please advise,

When you say there is no ink in lines at all do you mean all of them?


ps: Also good resource for all this hard-ware related stuff is EpsonWideFormat board on Yahoo. Worth cross-posting on that, you’ll get a some epson engineers there even.

Thanks for the Yahoo hint, but I hope this does not mean that I will get no further support IJM?
To answer your question about the lines: It’s a little difficult to tell, but it appears that the left-hand lines along with the magenta are mostly empty, but that the right hand ones seem to be full even though they do not print either. Should I try to prime them with a syringe? How do I connect a syringe to a supply line? I was able to connect a syringe with PiezoFlush to the input nibs on the head after I had opened it, and pushing PF through resulted in a fine mist being sprayed out of the head.
Another strategy might be to record the 20-digit Input Rank number from the inside of the print head and enter it to cause the initial charge flag to reset. I’m hesitant to open it up again and then do things like that in service mode even though it seems I could not make it much worse.
Also, I did empty out the magenta refillable cart, and lots of gunk came out. I rinsed it first with distilled water and then PF including the channels leading up to the valve.
BTW, did Epson recently change to a maintenance tank chip that does not reset? I used to be able to do that and reuse them, but now the resetter blinks but never turns green.

I’m afraid you may have made your situation worse by force ejecting fluid through that print-head. Any bit of liquid getting into the top-end of the non-fluid side (inlet area top) of the head (where the ribbon cable goes) can cause a short and thus no nozzles firing. You won’t always get a maint error at this stage either. Only if the head totally overheats will you get a thermo error. But it still could be a total fry of the pre-nozzle internals. Also, if you have miss-aligned your ribbon cable by even the smallest amount or bunged a corner of the cable, it can cause a premature head-failure. Extreme caution must be used when doing what I call a “hot-wire-flush” of these pro-style heads that have exposed ribbon contacts. Even with experienced hands there is a 30% chance it will kill the head.

If VM was bad we’d be hearing about this from thousands of people so rest assured, it’s your printer. We have it in our own printers here (same batch number).

I suggest an init fill and new carts that don’t have years of settling and dry-down. Look for your ink lines that are currently clear. If you see nothing coming through, it’s a bad damper or vacuum (most likely damper) or you have some type of short in your head.

That one whole side is gone suggests either an ink-bay issue or your dampers.

<edit: Your carts are from 2010. These are OLD. You need to start with a new set of carts and flushing fluid and do a straight init fill. > Looking at your use pattern it seems like these carts would get shaken, printed with, and then let to sit with ink on the sides. This can also cause scummy. If you are storing inks for a long time in the carts, it’s worth it to seal them and place them in dark.


To get the init fill instructions simply google “4880 field repair guide” and you see a pdf soon enough.

Also: Never mix PF and Ink in a cart . . . . just get different carts for the flush. Believe me, it pays for itself in the end.


Maint Tank Reset: All chips (OEM and not) wear out after many resets. It’s always worth it to have at least 3 maint tanks on hand to be able to have backups if/when enough static and other discharge finally kills the maint tank chip. I don’t think they changed the chip on the new maint carts (except the 4900s). I’ve been able to reset brand newbies as long as a few weeks ago. But hey, they change stuff every day. We just try and stay on top of it all as best we can.


Thanks for the thoughtful reply; however I fear that Dana’s directions have led me into a swamp. I’d like to respond to your comments one-by-one because there seem to be a lot of issues coming into play here:

  1. “I’m afraid you may have made your situation worse by force ejecting fluid through that print-head.”
    As far as I know I did not get any fluid into the top section of the print-head. I never did remove the ribbon cables. Instead I opened the head like a book, placed Bounty paper towels into the area below the head unit, connected a syringe to the nib of the VM inlet, and injected PF through the head. A fine mist like a waterfall exited the print-head and was absorbed by the towels. I never got an answer from Dana to my question about her suggestion “To flush the print head channel using our print head cleaning kit, follow the instructions (which are for desktop model printers) by placing a folded paper towel under the print head, then gently injecting PiezoFlush thru the magenta channel (no need to flush other channels if they’re all working well).” It appeared that the kit is only for desktop models. Instead, I used a tube that securely connected the syringe to the protruding nib on the VM channel of the print-head.

  2. “I suggest an init fill and new carts that don’t have years of settling and dry-down. Look for your ink lines that are currently clear. If you see nothing coming through, it’s a bad damper or vacuum (most likely damper) or you have some type of short in your head.”
    This is discouraging. I just refilled the carts after replacing all of the dampers with a set of inks that I purchased in November of 2015 (PayPal Transaction ####(edited for confidentiality -W) for $276.94 but not showing up on the purchase history in my Inkjet Mall account) because there was not enough ink remaining to perform an initial charge.
    On 1/5/2016 above I asked about replacing all of the carts, but received no reply.Dana did not recommend the replacement of the carts.
    I think it’s unlikely that all of the dampers are bad. It had occurred to me that the print-head might rely on the ink to help keep it cool and that performing 4 Power clean cycles could harm it, but relied on the instructions.

  3. “4880 field repair guide”
    This is very helpful. I already had a copy of the service manual, but did not know about the repair guide. I now see that “Maintenance Mode 3” shows up as “Self testing2” on the control panel, and that I was able to initiate the “Init. Fill” However, it does not start and I suspect that is because the red ink warning light is lit on the front panel. I tried resetting all the chips on the carts, however now the resetter does not seem to be working. It blinks red and never turns to green–that same behavior I had with the maintenance tank chip. Is this a problem with the resetter?


Dear Jon. There’s way to much going on here.

First thing first. Put OEM chips on the refill carts and reset those. (Should work, I would usually print with OEM chips on the 48s if there were any issues).

Then init-fill. fyi, I edited your top comment to take out the transaction ID because I didn’t want it being published online for your security.


Dear Walker, I just want to make sure that I understand what you are saying since previously you suggested I replace all my refillable carts. This is going to involve a significant investment on top of what I have already done, and one that may be lost if the procedure doesn’t work. The original issue was only the VM channel.

  1. That I purchase a new set of refillable carts and ink (unless you think that I can transfer the ink from the old carts that I just refilled before trying to init the printer.
  2. That I transfer OEM chips from a set of Epson carts to the refillable carts and reset them. FYI, I have a set of empty OEM carts, however when I try to reset them the resetter blinks red for a while and then ends on a steady red light instead of green. Do you think there is something amiss with the resetter? This is true for all the carts that I try–OEM and refillable. It used to work. Replace the batteries? It has not been used very much.
  1. Your carts are old but because it’s now all of the channels. Probably your damper assembly is not correctly put onto your head, or it’s air-locked. In any even you need to reset the carts and do an init fill. For old printers that have had lots of use (5 or 6 years) I recommend a set of flushing carts and regular init-fills (once a year or so) and damper replacements (CompassMicro).

  2. Reset the Chip Resetter:
    Occasionally, chip resetters need to be reset just like any computer does. To reset your resetter, please open it by unscrewing the two screws then inside you will find a board with three round batteries attached (batteries are on the same side of the board as pins that touch the chip contacts). Gently pry up one tab holding each battery down and slide the three batteries out of place. Wait 30 seconds then slide them securely back into place (it doesn’t matter which battery goes into which spot, they’re all the same) and put the resetter back together. Test the resetter on a different cartridge chip (sometimes a faulty chip can short out the resetter, so testing on a different cart chip rules out the chip).

I was very careful replacing the dampers and reassembling the printer; although it does appear as if the printer is air-locked. I already have a large quantity of PiezoFlush. Do I just order a regular set of refillable carts from you? Will the printer perform an initial fill even though it says the carts are not genuine?

BTW, removing and reinserting the batteries seems to have corrected the issue with the resetter. Thanks.

Init fil (ink charge) will work on this printer when it says non-genuine.


I did fill the carts with Piezoflush and have run it through the initial fill cycle twice—waiting in between. Unfortunately, I don’t see anything happening in the ink supply tubes. It says “Charging ink” and the pump makes noise, brings me through the cycle raising and lowering the levers. But nothing seems to be moving in the supply tubes which are mostly empty.